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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Extension front

Jaana Heino

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Lately, I've been corrected a lot in attitudes and extensions front about 1) leaning back and 2) bent supporting knee. I was seriously at loss about what is going wrong, but I think I have now traced the problem to a sad truth, which is that I'm afraid I have been cheating with these positions for months. That is, I'm afraid I have been unconsciously letting my turn out go somewhat, in order to get my leg a bit higher.




1) Is it possible that this kind of "cheating" could indeed be behind my alignment problem? I anyway need to correct the cheating, of course, but is it likely that by correcting it I get the alignment and knee better, too? Or should I keep on looking for other ways to correct them?


2) Since I naturally feel embarrassed about having to go back to about 60 degrees of extension (which seems to be what I can maintain fully turned out!) from about 80-90, are there ways to speed up the development of extension? I seem to be better off a la seconde and to the back, and I think part of this is a back/outer thigh flexibility question, rather than strength. I am fairly flexible for my age (30) in most directions, but putting my hands down to the floor from first or fifth position is harder to be than it should be (I feel the stretch along my outer thigh and just above/behind my knee).


I hope this makes at least some sense. :dry:

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Jaana, good positions come from good alignment and weight placement. So, the first thing is always the alignment. Without that, the rotation will not be there, and therefore the position will not be good. A well placed and rotated position, at any level or height, is far better than a badly placed and turned in leg that might be higher, but certainly not better in terms of line.


I don't think there is anything to "speed up" the development of extension or anything else in ballet! It's just a long, slow, hard process, and there are no shortcuts. It's an art that just does not fit into our "instant" world of the 21st century! :pinch:

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Thought you'd say that. :pinch:


I guess it's back to work then, and this time with making extra sure I won't cheat... I thought I had been careful about working correctly, but apparently not. Possibly this is because I always thought you would be conscious of it if you let your alignment and rotation go in order to achieve "false extension", or forced turnout, or other bad things, but apparently it is possible to "cheat" without noticing it yourself. :grinning:

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It is quite possible indeed, Jaana! Everyone wants their leg higher, and sometimes you really don't know the hip is forward or up or something else out of whack, like the supporting leg. :pinch: So, patience is, again, the keyword! :grinning:

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